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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Holiday from banks

Once upon a time, "It's a Wonderful Life" was the archetype movie about banking. Today it would be "Jaws."

But somehow that hasn't stopped banks from snatching up storefronts here, there and everywhere, as the Globe's Todd Wallack chronicles today.

Brookline's Coolidge Corner is a great example: at least 10 banks clustered in a tiny space, filling spots once held by by an eclectic mix of retail from boutique wine stores to McDonald's. The banks even outnumber the phone stores!

The question is why? Boston Redevelopment Authority director Peter Meade offers one answer:
“The biggest problem is that local businesses simply can’t compete with the banks’ money. Banks can come in and bigfoot a place so a local business doesn’t have a chance to compete.’’
That's the greatest irony. Back in George Bailey's day, banks and their savings and loan kin were supposed to foster community: take in local deposits and lend them back out to earnest businessmen and women looking to build their lives and the local economy.

Today? Banks headquartered across the country or across the ocean take in money -- not just deposits but endless fees. In return, aside from microscopic interest paid for the right to hold that money, not so much.

The nation's inability to snap out of the Great Recession -- caused, never let us forget, by irresponsible bank lending -- has been a reluctance of those very same taxpayer bailed-out banks to invest in the communities they helped to bring down.

Yet somehow the banks have the cash to throw around to outbid convenience stores and bagel shops and businesses that provide some life for a community after banker's hours.

No wonder neighbors are taking up petitions to keep the sharks out of their neighborhoods.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there were one thing that both Dems and Republicans can do to strengthen the country it is join a local credit union. I've been a member for 40 years and they have the same services as banks and are part of the community.

February 21, 2012 5:04 AM  

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